Glory of Sundara Khanda and Benefits of its Parayanam
Glory of Sundara Khanda and Benefits of its Parayanam
Mano-Javam Maaruta-Tulya-Vegam Jitendriyam Buddhi-Mataam Varissttha |
Vaata-Atmajam Vaanara-Yuutha-Mukhyam Shriiraama-Duutam Sharannam Prapadye ||
Who is Swift as Mind and Fast as Wind,
Master of the Senses, Possesses Intelligence, Learning and Wisdom,
Who is Son of the Wind God and Important one among the Vanaras,
To that Messenger of Sri Rama, I take Refuge.
As per tradition Srimad Ramayana text has twenty four thousand Slokas corresponding to the twenty four syllables of Gayatri mantra. The first Sloka of Sundarakanda has the twelfth syllable of the twenty four syllables of the Gayatri mantra, placing Sundarakanda in a way at the virtual center or the heart of Ramayana. We find beautiful dialogues between Hanuman and Mother Sita in the Sundara Kanda. The book also contains the dialogues between Mother Sita and Ravana, Ravana and Hanuman.
Sundarakanda is probably the most widely read part of Ramayana and carries a widely
known verse about itself saying
sundare sundaro ramo sundare sundaraH kapiH
sundare sundarI sitA sundare kiM na sundaram ||
In Sundarakanda Rama is beautiful , Sita is beautiful, Hanuman is beautiful ,What is not beautiful in Sundarakanda?
Let us understand why it is pivotal part of Ramayana. Sri Rama and Sita have gone through relentless troubles and difficulties in terms of the abrupt cancellation of coronation, banishment to the forests , the death of father Dasaratha , the abduction of Sita. Sri Rama himself says,
"Kingdom is Lost. Living in forest. Lost Sita. Now this Bird Jatayu is dead.
This is all my misfortune which can even destroy fire".
This mood of despondency continues with the despondency of the search party led by Angada being unable to find Sita . They were also facing the daunting task of crossing the ocean to locate Sita . From there the seeds of success are sown with Jambavaan prodding Hanuman to take upon himself the task of crossing the ocean.
Starting in this background , the exploits of Hanuman create a sense of exuberance. Hanuman flies across the ocean overcoming several obstacles , enters Lanka, after intensive search finds Sita , identifies himself as the messenger of Rama , takes her message and a token Chudamani from her as an identification , then announces himself as the servant and messenger of Rama, destroys the palace garden of Ravana, gains audience with Ravana, conveys his own message to Ravana saying return Sita or face annihilation . When his message of conciliation was rejected and his tail was set on fire , he uses that to burn down the city of Lanka , returns triumphantly to Kishkindha and conveys to Rama that Sita is safe but in the custody of the Rakshasa King Ravana in Lanka , continuously pining for Rama and awaiting action by Rama to get her released.
During the course of this, let us see the powerful 'Jaya Mantra' of Hanuman embedded in the Sundara Khanda. He had achieved the purpose of locating Sita, Hanuman realizes that he will have to return to Lanka again with Sri Rama to battle Ravana. He decides to do a little more to test the capabilities of the enemies. He hits upon an idea to get their attention. He destroys the Asoka grove where Sita is held. He proclaims loudly that he is the follower of Rama and nothing can stop him.
jayatyatibalo raamo lakShmaNashcha mahaabalaH |
raajaa jayati sugriivo raaghaveNaabhipaalitaH || 5-42-33
"Long live the mighty Rama and the powerful Lakshmana! Long live the King Sugreeva, protected by Rama!"
daaso.aham kosalendrasya raamasyaakliShTakarmaNaH |
hanumaan shatrusainyaanaam nihantaa maarutaatmajaH || 5-42-34
"I am Hanuman, the destroyer of the army of adversaries and the son of wind-god. I am the servant of Rama, the king of Kosala Kingdom, who is unwearied in action."
na raavaNasahasram me yuddhe pratibalaM bhavet |
shilaabhistu praharataH paadapaishcha sahasrashaH || 5-42-35
"Even a thousand of Ravanas will not be matching equally with me, who is capable of striking with thousands of rocks and trees in battle."
ardayitvaa puriim laNkaamabhivaadya cha maithiliim |
samRiddhaartho gamiShyaami miShataam sarvarakShasaam || 5-42-36
"Here, before the eyes of all the demons, I will annihilate the City of Lanka and after offering salutation to Seetha, I will go back after fully completing my task."
These four slokas constitute the famous "Jaya Mantra". Tradition has it,
that these ought to be chanted, whenever one is embarking on a venture and desires victory!
We can go on and on..with many such wonders in this Khanda, but the essence is the long sought after success in locating Sita , bringing peace to her agitated mind , bringing peace to Rama by informing him of the safety of Sita provide a turning point in Ramayana. So much so that the tradition says that Sadhana connected with Sundarakanda creates a sense of peace and success for those who undertake the Saadhana of Sundarakanda. In any case it will help one appreciate and learn from the extraordinary qualities of Hanuman (in addition to his Supreme Spirit of Service) namely Competence, Devoted Friendship, Self-Confidence, Alertness, Swiftness of action and Foresight.
Over the ages Sundarakhanda in Ramayan acquired an importance of its own , much like the Vishnu Sahasranama in Mahabharata. Hanumaan is clearly seen as the selfless ,devoted , courageous , intelligent , powerful , but simple Rambhakt , a devotee of Rama. It is said that when a man has some great issue at stake that will either mend or mar his life, he reads Sundarakanda or hears it expounded. When a man is ill , past medical help people believe if one reads Sundarakanda Maruti will bring him back to life and good health. There is certainly more to Sundarakanda if one were to look at the buried message in Sundarakanda.